Proms and princesses: The Disney generation grows up and goes to high school, but the desire to look and feel like a princess does not necessarily go away. Savvy marketers have capitalized on the trend, and parents are paying for it.
Mark Watson/Black Hills Pioneer/AP
Last week, a new survey found that nationwide, U.S. teens and their families will spend an average of $1,000 on this year’s prom. In my region, the northeast, the average is double that–a whopping $2,000 per family. With such numbers, the article argues, “Prom is the new wedding.”
Teen girls view prom as their “red-carpet moment” and are “heavily influenced” by celebrities who walk actual red carpets in designer gowns. “It’s a rite of passage, and there’s a legacy of how you look at your prom. Girls want to dress to impress.”
In other words, the intense consumerism of prom may be fueled by a wish to be like a celebrity for a night: the center of attention, all eyes on her, enjoying the spotlight.
But with such pleasures come intense pressure–the pressure of public scrutiny, with a fear of condemnation if the girl fails to achieve an idealized look. External scrutiny may be real or imagined. It may take place on Facebook or at an afterparty. But self-scrutiny will most likely take place in the mirror, as a girl turns her critical eye on her own reflection to gauge whether she measures up to the ideal. No sympathy, no compassion–just judgments.